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Increased development pressures on the Nepawin Creek, Lily Creek wetland.

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
The site of the new Health Sciences North parking lot, prior to development.  This functioning wetland served as habitat.  It also buffered Nepahwin Creek from adjacent development and Paris Street, filtering contaminants.  Below the vegetation are many metres of peat.
The site of the new Health Sciences North parking lot, prior to development. This functioning wetland served as habitat. It also buffered Nepahwin Creek from adjacent development and Paris Street, filtering contaminants. Below the vegetation are many metres of peat.
The site of the new Health Sciences North parking lot, prior to development.  Designated floodplain, this area regularly floods every spring, as seen in this photograph..  It acts as a holding area for excess water in Nepahwin Creek during the spring melt and rain storms, helping to prevent flooding in adjacent areas.  This water is then released gradually back into the creek, helping to maintain water levels during warmer, drier periods.  Extreme weather events will be more frequent.
The site of the new Health Sciences North parking lot, prior to development. Designated floodplain, this area regularly floods every spring, as seen in this photograph.. It acts as a holding area for excess water in Nepahwin Creek during the spring melt and rain storms, helping to prevent flooding in adjacent areas. This water is then released gradually back into the creek, helping to maintain water levels during warmer, drier periods. Extreme weather events will be more frequent.
The Health Sciences North parking lot in construction.  The majority of the wetland has been filled in.  The removal of vegetation and peat has removed the habitat and most of the natural functions.  The gravel surface will still allow drainage.
The Health Sciences North parking lot in construction. The majority of the wetland has been filled in. The removal of vegetation and peat has removed the habitat and most of the natural functions. The gravel surface will still allow drainage.
School site before construction.  The site encompasses wetland, some floodplain, and a small rock outcrop.  Trails regularly used by residents can be seen.
School site before construction. The site encompasses wetland, some floodplain, and a small rock outcrop. Trails regularly used by residents can be seen.
School site before construction.
School site before construction.
School site before construction.
School site before construction.
School site in construction.  Standing water is visible on the site.  Pumping was documented during construction by residents.
School site in construction. Standing water is visible on the site. Pumping was documented during construction by residents.
School site – construction near completion.  The school is now completed and in use.
School site – construction near completion. The school is now completed and in use.
Nepahwin creek  between the new the new St. Denis Health Sciences North parking lot and school.  The loss of wetland adjacent to the creek is apparent.  The amount of  road salt and other contaminants reaching the creek will increase, while at the same time the cleansing function of the wetland has been very much reduced.
Nepahwin creek between the new the new St. Denis Health Sciences North parking lot and school. The loss of wetland adjacent to the creek is apparent. The amount of road salt and other contaminants reaching the creek will increase, while at the same time the cleansing function of the wetland has been very much reduced.
Overview of the Lily Creek wetland.  Visible is the school site in construction, the new playing field (artificial turf), and the board walk visible behind.  The artificial turf playing field has a larger footprint than the original grass playing field, and would retain less water than grass and soil.  The boardwalk is currently not in use.  However, repairs are planned.
Overview of the Lily Creek wetland. Visible is the school site in construction, the new playing field (artificial turf), and the board walk visible behind. The artificial turf playing field has a larger footprint than the original grass playing field, and would retain less water than grass and soil. The boardwalk is currently not in use. However, repairs are planned.
New built facilities at James Jerome Sports Complex.  This new building is less than 15m from Nepahwin Creek (the expected minimum distance from a watercourse as regulated by the Conservation Authorities Act), and is on designated floodplain.  The increase in impermeable surfaces will increase runoff to the creek.  Development in public parks does not go through a public hearing process.
New built facilities at James Jerome Sports Complex. This new building is less than 15m from Nepahwin Creek (the expected minimum distance from a watercourse as regulated by the Conservation Authorities Act), and is on designated floodplain. The increase in impermeable surfaces will increase runoff to the creek. Development in public parks does not go through a public hearing process.
Creek bank in front of the new sports building.  Slumping and erosion is visible, showing existing degradation.
Creek bank in front of the new sports building. Slumping and erosion is visible, showing existing degradation.

The Nepahwin Creek, Lily Creek wetland area provides a good example of the development pressures faced by wetlands and floodplains throughout Greater Sudbury.  In the early 1970’s a community led OMB appeal protected a large portion of this wetland, rejecting the proposed development of a shopping centre.  After the construction of playing fields later that decade, it faced  little further encroachment.

Now, forty years later, development pressures on this wetland have sharply increased.  Most of the remaining wetland south of Centennial Drive has been filled in on both sides of Nepahwin Creek:  a new parking lot for Health Sciences North to the east of the creek, and the new St. Denis elementary school, built by the French Catholic School Board, to the west.  Both of these sites have been the subject of large public outcry around the loss of wetland.  North of Centennial Drive, is the James Jerome Sports Complex.   A new artificial turf playing field has been installed, and a new building next to Nepahwin Creek is being completed.  

On both private and public lands, wetlands and floodplains continue to be developed throughout Greater Sudbury.  The costs include increased flooding, loss of habitat, poorer water quality, and loss of natural functions.

This photo essay takes a closer look at one central example, the Nepahwin, Lily Creek wetland across from Science North.


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